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The Green Goods Meet Local Laws

While marijuana is now legal in Nevada and California, it’s still up to local jurisdictions to make the final call.
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Whether you're seeking relief, lighting up on the chairlift, or condemning any participation with the devil’s lettuce, after the 2016 November state elections, regulations for the green herb have shifted. While both Nevada and California have made smoking pot legal, it’s still up to local governments to make the official call. Straddling two states and five counties with divided opinions and regulations on marijuana, the current state of pot around Lake Tahoe is, well, hazy. Confused? We all are.

State of Mind The Golden State With the passage of Proposition 64 in November, California welcomed legal marijuana use for adults 21 years and older. Meaning, it’s okay to smoke pot, and it’s okay to grow it in the comfort of your home (up to six plants). The state law allows adults to possess and transport up to 28.5 grams of green nugs and eight grams of the highly concentrated brownies, oils, and waxes. The catch? It's still illegal to sell marijuana for recreational use. Huh? California is trying to untangle regulations between the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), a 2016 voter initiative to legalize cannabis in California, and the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA) before Jan. 1, 2018.

The Sagebrush State A few years ago, having a small green stash equaled a felony in Nevada. After Question 2 was approved last year, the Silver State reversed course, making it legal to possess and sell recreational pot. But for Nevada, regulating promiscuous activities for state taxes is no new feat. On July 1, the Silver State became the fifth state to legalize marijuana and open its dispensaries to recreational users. Since the new ballot measures passed, lawmakers have moved swiftly to establish how the new green goods will be taxed for the state — the current tax rate on recreational marijuana is 32 percent. According to the Nevada Dispensary Association, in the first four days, the tax revenue amounted to $500,000.

A Mixing Pot The Town of Truckee Remaining green-free, there is currently a prohibition of cannabis in the Town of Truckee. The Town is in the process of crafting its regulations to align with community input and state laws. Since January 2017, Truckee has hosted a series of workshops addressing the issue. Currently, the regulations could veto cannabis use in the town or create an entirely new framework allowing for dispensaries. For more than 10 years, the Town has prohibited medical dispensaries within its limits. Since November 2015, delivery services have been prohibited as well — leaving more business for the pizza guy.

Placer County Placer County is taking the “out of sight, out of mind” approach to its current marijuana regulations. The county allows for the cultivation of six plants per household for personal use, but prohibits all commercial activity (cultivation, processing, manufacturing, delivery, and distribution). The ordinance was implemented Jan. 1, but the county is currently considering changing the policy to allow for a scientific research facility. On Aug. 16, 2017, the Placer County Board of Supervisors met in Auburn to discuss the option. While the board is not in favor of supporting medical dispensaries, it would like to consider altering the current ordinance to study the medical efficacy of cannabis.

Washoe County On Aug. 5, NuLeaf of Incline Village opened its doors as the first and only recreational marijuana dispensary at Lake Tahoe. Opening day marked a celebration in the community with sales out the door and a pop-up party in the parking lot. “Locals are happy to see it legalized and tourists are happy they can get medicine up here,” said Bryan Spider, NuLeaf dispensary lead. While other counties across the lake are still deciding how to regulate the new laws, Washoe County is moving forward and aligning with the Nevada’s new regulations. While recreational sales in parts of the state began on July 1, the Washoe County Board of Commissioners passed an ordinance on July 25 giving the go-ahead for recreational marijuana in rural Washoe County (assuming the dispensaries have received their county and state licenses).

Douglas County Home to Nevada’s state capital, Douglas County is taking a conservative stance toward cannabis, unlike its free-spirited neighbor. On Jan. 1, 2017, the Board of Commissioners signed Ordinance 2017-1481 prohibiting the sale or cultivation of marijuana in establishments. According to Dena Abeyta, the county’s chief deputy clerk, and election administrator, “Douglas County wants nothing to do with it all.” The good news? The ordinance does not affect the state law, meaning the personal use of marijuana is okay. Therefore, if you're 21 and over, feel free to grow it, eat it, smoke it, or vape it in the privacy of your home.

Nevada County Thanks to an ideal climate, Nevada County has a reputation for supplying the goods, although since 2012 local jurisdictions have been trying to regulate outdoor cultivation. In 2016, Supervisor Dan Miller tried banning outdoor growing altogether and limit indoor cultivation to 12 plants. The public said, "Um, no thanks" and voted against the regulation. Currently, the county has a temporary ordinance with specific indoor cultivation regulations; basically, it cannot be in a spare bedroom, the living room, or backyard. It states that growing weed must be in an enclosed structure with a roof and out of sight. The ordinance allows those in a residential zone between 5 and 10 acres to grow 12 indoor plants, but no outdoor plants. Since the passage of Proposition 64, manufacturing and commercial retail are prohibited in Nevada County. Nevada City is currently considering a medical dispensary, while Grass Valley and Truckee prohibit dispensaries and commercial activity.

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November 8, 2018